As well as its famous assertion that accountancy was not boring, the Monty Python team also produced the definitive sketch about the futility of complaining. Monty Python’s Life of Brian featured first-century Palestinian liberationists asking: ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ Answering their own question, they found themselves listing everything from roads to running water. As the rest of the UK marks Labour’s first year in power, the accountancy profession is entitled to ask: ‘What has Labour done for us?’
The first answer must be that things have not been as bad as they could have been. Last week’s disclosure by this newspaper that the Crown Prosecution Service and the Inland Revenue had signed a secret accord to pursue tax fraud looks like tough action. Labour’s first year has seen a commitment to a general anti-avoidance rule and tax changes in two budgets have seen both a tightening and a further complication of the tax regime. But like lawyers arriving at the scene of a crash, tax accountants can never view the misfortunes of others without a sense of a new opportunity being created.
For the profession as a whole, though, Labour’s first year has been something of a dud. Regulation of the profession is low on the agenda and action on limited liability partnerships is still awaited. Labour, it seems, still does not see the accountancy profession as a priority.
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